Today I’m here to sing the praises of Eat Retreat! Eat Retreat is a creative retreat for leaders in the food community that will soon be gathering for it’s fifth year – this time in the Pennsylvania countryside. In their words, “Eat Retreaters arrive with curiosity and something to share and leave with a strong network of friends, supporters, and collaborators for future projects.” I can tell you, from personal experience, that this is true through and through. I was lucky enough to be included in Eat Retreat 2014 in the lush Anderson Valley and it was a downright fantastic experience. I urge anyone who works in food to apply for this year’s retreat!
There are so many stories to tell, foods, drinks, experiences that took place over our three day weekend late last Spring. Here are just a few…
We built mud ovens with Roger and Olivia of West Coast Mud and cooked in them for the rest of the weekend (oh those wood-fired pizzas!).
I don’t think Dafna of INNA jam sat still for one moment, always pulling yet one more delicious morsel out for everyone over and over again (this hella-peño relish was for the fresh oysters that Anna brought along).
There were MANY spectacular presentations and demonstrations and mini-classes while we were together but only one of them made me cry. Jana’s passion for bees, their honey, but mostly their plight, was incredibly inspiring and moving – please do everything you can to support and save the bees, people. It is vital.
Jonathan brought along some of his (cough cough) “medicinal” hooch (along with endless amounts of his amazing cheeses and butter). I may or may not have actually slugged some of this from a water bottle that was NOT marked (ouch). Speaking of hooch…
I headed off to one of four field trips to Craft Distillers along with (shown l-r) Jesse, Megan, Laura, Erin, Olivia, Michael (hidden), Rick, Jonathan, and Nic to get a tour from one of the founders, Ansley Coale.
We got to taste some amazing brandies before heading back to camp with a trunk full of spirits for the next two nights’ cocktail hours.
I volunteered myself to head up one cocktail hour. What you see here are the makings of the Ms. Ginny Leslie. I pulled this drink together for the weekend (Jeffrey helped me name it – after his middle school teacher, Ms. Ginny Leslie! And I had an awesome sidekick/barback/volunteer Clare). Here is how to make one for yourself…
The Ms. Ginny Leslie
2 oz. dry gin (we used Russell Henry London from the Distillery – crisp and delish)
the fresh juice of 1 lime
a few hearty dashes of your favorite bitters (I like Miracle Mile Bitters Co. yuzu bitters)
2 oz. DRY brand cucumber soda – this is the only VITAL on brand ingredient you must have. It is not widely carried but SO worth ordering online.
3 oz. tonic (I use Fever-tree Indian – the quality of your tonic ALWAYS matters, friends)
fresh cucumber spear
thin round slice of lime for garnish
Fill 2/3rds of your glass with ice, pour in all of the above, give it a good stir, stab it with your cucumber spear, lap it up.
My cocktail was a tasty sip but, the next night, I got SMOKED (pun intended) by Dafna and Alyson’s Mezcalrita at their Riverbed Bar cocktail hour.
These are the makings of the hands-down-BEST cocktail I have ever tasted. Holy moses was that good.
See how excited Jen and I are about it?
I cannot thank Heather, Nate, and Kathryn enough for making Eat Retreat 2014 so unbelievable.
And the thing is, these are just a few visual snippets of a much larger experience. I could tell you a funny, wonderful, delightful story about every single person that I met, laughed with, ate with, washed dishes with, danced with, taught a few tips to, drank with, philosophised with, started a new friendship with over this weekend (or have worked with since). I am not able to attend Eat Retreat 2015, but you can! I urge any/all far/wide food people to GET IN IT. The deadline to apply is Sunday, February 22nd so don’t delay!
P.S. I taught some tips on mobile photography at the retreat. Bop over to instagram and search #eatretreat2014 to see more snaps from everyone!
P.P.S. Go listen to Kathryn and Heather give you a bunch more of the downlow on Eat Retreat 2015 with alum Sari on her podcast.